Rowena was bored out of her mind.
When she'd agreed to help the Winchesters, she'd expected some action, some entertainment, hell, even the ever boring research. Not the endless waiting for Castiel to gather the information they needed. She wasn't quite clear on how exactly feathers was gathering said information, but she was certain of one thing: he was doing a shoddy job. If that had been her, she thought, a tad smugly, they would've already been on their way to killing whatever monster it was they were dealing with. The angel — or the brothers, for that matter — was too passive, too human. One spell, one teeny-tiny spell, and people would sing like birds. So what if their brains boiled in the process? No method was perfect. It was effectiveness that mattered.
Unlike her, you seemed to have been able to find some shred of amusement. First you'd been staring at your phone, a practice Rowena doubted she would ever be able to fully comprehend. You were playing games and, when you'd grown bored of that, watching YouTube videos the witch didn't dare take a peek at. They could have been harmless, of baby animals even she had to admit were utterly adorable, or documentaries about crimes full of graphic pictures of crime scenes.
When your battery had finally had enough and you were forced to leave the poor device to charge, you announced you were hungry, another thing Rowena wasn't surprised about one bit. You loved food. You loved snacks. You were insatiable. Sam had offered you brownies, and you'd happily accepted them, proclaiming your love for the dessert. You offered them to Rowena, but she declined. She only ate bunker food if it was absolutely necessary, and this particular dish, if one might call it that, didn't quite fit her tastes. At all.
With a shrug and a comment of, "Suit yourself," you dug in and devoured half a tray before deciding you'd had enough. Rowena couldn't help a chuckle. When it came to dining habits, you were no different than Dean "the Neanderthal" Winchester.
The two of you spent the next hour sitting in silence, while Sam and Dean walked around with phones to their ears, calling everyone they knew in search of information, all of which ended in nothing but wasted time.
Then you squeaked out a tiny, quiet, "Rowena," and suddenly all boredom and annoyance vanished in place of panic that turned her blood cold and made her heart race as if she had run a marathon.
Rowena's eyes widened, fear spreading over her face like molten fire as she took in the sight before her. You were shaking so fervently she, for a moment, thought you were seizing. Your eyes were wide open; there was fear in them, deep, intense, piercing to the point of physical pain. You looked around, head whipping left and right, left and right, left and right, like a tape stuck in a never-ending loop.
"Y/N? What's wrong?" Rowena asked.
You swallowed, hard, as your bulging eyes once again scanned the room. You were on high alert, senses sharpened. An animal about to strike at any moment, prepared to defend herself from perceived danger. "They're after me."
The witch frowned, confused. "Who's after you?"
"They are!" you exclaimed as if the answer was obvious, as if it was right in front of her and, for whatever reason, she wasn't seeing it.
Rowena looked around. There was nothing — and nobody — in the bunker that appeared dangerous. Her frown deepened as her eyes locked back with your wild ones. You appeared genuinely scared, genuinely panicked. Was it a couple ghosts choosing to show themselves just to you? She instantly disregarded the thought. She'd dealt with plenty of ghosts in her long life; she'd recognize the signs of them in a heartbeat. There was no change in temperature. No goosebumps creeping over her skin at the sensation of the unnatural presence. Other than you and her, there was nothing supernatural in the Bunker. Nothing threatening.
What was going on?
"They!" you screamed. "They're here! They're after me!"
You jumped to your feet frantically and spun around, taking in every wall, every corner of the spacious room. Your hands shot up to your chest, fingers curling around the collar of your shirt, knuckles tight with pressure.
Rowena rose up after you. "Calm down, Y/N," she said softly, as if she were talking to a child. Her hands were up in a calming, placating gesture. Whatever was happening, you were genuinely distressed. She wanted to help you, wanted it more than anything, but first you had to calm down. It did no one any good to have you in a state of panic.
"I can't calm down! They're after me! THEY'RE AFTER ME!"
"It's not okay!"
That much was clear. The question was, what was not okay? What was wrong?
"How can you say it's okay when it's not?" you added, and the look you shot her was so heartbroken, so disappointed that it made her flinch. "They-they wanna take me, and you're not doing anything. Why aren't you doing anything?" Your eyes widened even more, impossibly so. "Are you one of them?"
"No!" Rowena quickly said, and you breathed a sigh of relief, but still kept a suspicious eye on her. "You know I'm on your side, darling."
She'd always been on your side. Always would be. Even when you got on her nerves, or now, when you were making no sense, she supported you. She chose you over everyone. She'd woved long ago to protect you, and that was exactly what she would do.
She just needed to know what you needed protection from.
"What's going on?" Sam walked in, Dean in tow, eyeing the two of you with concern.
"We heart yelling," Dean said.
You shot a long, hard look at them. Rowena expected you to start screaming bloody murder, but instead you started shaking your head frantically, in tune with your trembling body.
"I don't know," she said. "She's saying someone is after her."
The brothers exchanged a confused glance.
"Who?" Sam asked.
"I don't know," Rowena replied.
"I told you it was them!" you snapped. "Aren't you listening? They are after me!"
Sam swallowed. "Who are they, Y/N?" he said in that gentle, friendly tone of his that made Rowena open up to him all those months ago. He knew how to talk to people, knew how to get through to them, how to approach them without coming across as pushy or threatening. She hoped it worked on you.
"They are they!" Before anyone could respond, you froze. Your hands squeezed the shirt harder, ripping at the fabric in several places. "They found me," you whispered, and the coldness of it sent shivers down Rowena's spine. "They're here. They found me."
Silence befell the Bunker for a short moment. The witch dared herself to think it was over. Then you started wailing, started sobbing and screaming like a banshee, and she knew it was anything but.
You were panting heavily, taking in and letting out deep, painful breaths. Rowena was by your side immediately. Her hands fell on your shoulders. You flinched at the sudden touch, then eased into it once you realized it was her.
"I-I can't breathe," you whimpered. Tears sprung from your eyes, helpless, desperate. "I'm shaking. Why can't I stop shaking? Why can't I stop?"
"I think you're having a panic attack," Rowena said. Images of her own similar attacks filled her brain. You were always there. Always calmed her down. Always held her and made sure she was okay, made her feel safe. "Try to calm your breathing, okay?"
"I can't!" you squeaked, and it was the most heartbreaking sound in the world.
She pressed her forehead to yours and took your hands into her own. They shook wildly; she had to tighten her grip to keep them somewhat steady. She brought one of your hands to her chest and pressed it to the middle, just above her breasts. Her heartbeat returned to its normal, soft fluttering. You visibly relaxed at the sensation. "Can you feel me breathe?"
It took all her remaining strength to keep her breathing under control, to keep it level. "Breathe in sync with me."
You did as she said, or at least attempted to, for the second you tried to keep your breath at bay, you found yourself unable to breathe. You exhaled as if you'd been holding your breath for hours rather than two seconds. The panting returned with a vengeance; in and out, the oxygen vent in deep, hungry intervals. Along it came sobs, primal, animalistic, tearing free from the depths of your throat, ripping through the bunker like a haunting echo.
"I can't," you squealed out. "I can't, I can't, I can't!"
Rowena's heart broke. "Okay," she whispered, even though it was anything but. It was far from okay. She tightened her hold on your hand, a gesture done for her comfort as much as yours. Whatever was wrong with you, she couldn't fix it. She didn't know how to fix it — didn't know where to even start. She'd never seen you in this state before. She'd seen you sick, seen you injured and depressed and worried out of your mind. She'd seen you at your worst, and had taken care of you without a single issue.
Now, she had no idea what to do, how to help. A part of her hated herself for it. What was the point of having so much power if she couldn't use it to help the one she loved?
"Mitescere," she said softly, tone gentle but firm, secure, decisive. A simple calming spell she'd held onto as a last resort. Panic attacks were best dealt the human way — it was healthier, as Rowena had told you following her very own first attack, after you'd used this same spell to calm her down — but sometimes there was no other way. She didn't know was was wrong with you, and couldn't calm you down through normal means. Magic, even if it wasn't the healthiest option, was the least she could do.
The spell worked almost immediately. Your breathing steadied right away, panting replaced by short, swift intakes and outtakes of breath. The shaking subsided. You were still trembling, but it was light twitches as opposed to violent sways. Your heartbeat, while still fast, slowed at least halfway down. Rowena breathed out a sigh of relief. You were still far from normal, but you were calm. You weren't frantic.
"It's because of them," you said after a moment of silence.
Rowena raised an eyebrow. "What is?"
"They're making me crazy," you said. "They're here and they're affecting me."
The panic attack may have gone away, but paranoia certainly hadn't.
An idea popped in Rowena's mind like a light bulb switching on. "Why don't we get away from them?"
Your eyes lit up at the prospect. "We can do that?"
"Where would we go?" you asked, interested.
Oh, thank Charles! Rowena smiled. "Come with me, dear. I know just the place."
She linked an arm through yours and headed for the hallway. Huddled against her, body pressed firmly into hers, you followed suit like a faithful, well-trained puppy. Your eyes still wandered around, seeking the mysterious them that frightened you. Rowena knew they — whoever and whatever they were — weren't real, but she wished they were. They'd caused you distress, hurt you, terrified you to the core. She wanted them dead.
If they were real, she could make it happen. She could protect you.
With things as they were, there was nothing she could do. She couldn't help you. The spell and lies, which she was already feeling guilty for, could only do so much. They were temporary solutions.
You needed something permanent.
She couldn't give it to you. A part of her hated herself for it.
As she led you to the hall filled with rooms, Rowena cast a glance towards Sam and Dean. The three of them exchanged a nod, a silent agreement. They would figure this out, but in order to do that you needed to be taken care of. It did no one any good to have you freaking out in paranoid panic like a withdrawing addict.
Rowena led you to one of the rooms she picked at random. She closed the door behind you, one finger shooting up to her mouth in a shush motion. You nodded in understanding. As painful as it was, this was the only way she could deal with you. Play along, act, pretend. Dramatics were one of her signatures; the least she could do was put on a decent show for you. There would come a day when you would laugh about this, when you would think back on it with a smile on your mouth. When you would tease Rowena about getting worried over nothing and assign her yet another one of your ridiculous, cutesy nicknames.
"They can't get in here," she said quietly, voice a bare whisper.
"They can't?" Just to make sure, you eyed the room cautiously, scanned it with a wide gaze. Finding nothing, you relaxed.
"No. There is a barrier preventing them from getting in."
You were listening intently, absorbing every word that came out of her mouth. There was a childlike innocence to it, to you, that made Rowena's heart swell up with warmth. Even in a state of paranoia and fear, you trusted her. Not many people were willing to take that risk.
"But it only works if you keep quiet," she added. "They mustn't hear you."
"Quiet. Got it," you said with a big nod. "I can do that." You brought a finger to your mouth, mimicking her, and gave a small laugh. "Shhhh!"
Rowena couldn't help a chuckle. "Aye. Shh. Why don't you lie down for a bit?"
Your threw the bed a quick glance. "I don't think it's safe."
"Och, it's safe, darling."
"You think so?"
"I know so. That bed is the safest place in this room."
You remained unsure.
"You trust me, don't you?" she asked.
"Of course," you said without a moment's hesitation. Your eyes wandered back to the bed. "Okay, I'll do it."
Rowena released a breath she'd been holding. "Good. Good girl."
You face lit up the same as it always did when she called you that. She tucked you in, wrapped you up nice and tight in the blanket. The trembling never subsided. Every time her skin came in contact with yours and she was reminded of it, of the rabid beats of your heart, something inside her broke. Not even she shook that much when she woke from nightmares. This was wrong. So, so wrong. She hoped she could make it right soon.
"Remember, be quiet," Rowena said.
You looked up at her. "Where are you going?"
"I—I'm going to make them go away."
You grabbed her hand, nails digging into her skin. She hissed, but you held on as if your life depended on it. "No! It's dangerous!"
"It's okay, Y/N. They're here for you, not me," she reminded you. You thought on it, then nodded. "I'll find a spell that will make them leave you alone."
"Thank you, Rowena."
"Och, it's nothing," she said, though it was anything but. Niceties were her drug. She never tired of them.
"I love you."
Oh, she knew. She knew, but she still couldn't believe it. How could anyone love her? How could anyone find it in them to get past everything she'd done and let their heart feel for her, yearn for her, adore her? "I love you, too."
She kissed the top of your head, motioned once more for you to keep quiet (which you mimicked again), and left.
Hopefully, the next time she entered that room she would have a cure ready. A spell, a potion, hell, even some of those pills humans loved to swallow like sweeties at the slightest ache. Anything. She hated seeing you like this, hated seeing you in ail. And what she hated even more was being unable to do a bloody thing to help.
Soon, she would be. Very, very soon. She swore it on her life.
"How is she?" Sam asked. There was a kindness to his voice, a concern that came straight from the heart. He cared about you, and he cared about Rowena. Truly, genuinely so.
There was a reason he was Rowena's favorite Winchester. Despite all the bad they'd done to each other, Sam had given her a chance. Aside from you, nobody had ever done that. Nobody had ever thought her worthy of a second chance, of kindness, of friendship.
Sam Winchester did.
Rowena made sure to repay him the same courtesy. She didn't want to disappoint him, the same way she didn't want to disappoint you. The two of you had given her a chance. The least she could do was prove you'd made the right choice.
"I got her to lie down," Rowena said. She sucked in a breath, and her lip trembled as she said, "She's still shaking, Sam. She…" She swallowed. "I don't know how to help her."
It took every remnant of her strength for those words to slip out. Rowena was a proud woman. She kept her head high and admitted to no defeat, cried no weakening tears — in front of other people, that was. In front of people who weren't you.
This was different, though. This was sudden, unexpected. Strange. She couldn't deal with it on her own. She needed help.
"We'll figure it out," Sam said and offered her a small, encouraging smile.
She gratefully accepted it. "I don't know what happened. She was fine, and then she went off her rocker. I don't bloody understand it!"
"Was she doing any magic?" Dean asked.
"No. She was just sitting there."
"She been sick lately?"
"No." You'd never complained of any ailment. Aside from the occasional cough and sneeze, you were perfectly healthy.
"Did she eat anything out of the ordinary?" Sam asked.
"She ate a few of those brownies you gave her."
Dean shot his brother his deadliest glare. "Seriously? You gave her my brownies?" Sam made his signature bitchface. Rowena glared as if she was contemplating murder. Dean cleared his throat. "Cas got them for me. He forgot to buy pie, so those were compensation."
Why was she not surprised that was what had transpired?
She rolled her eyes.
"Pie's important," he said as if it explained everything.
"To overgrown toddlers, for sure."
He gasped, offended. "It's called having taste."
She couldn't help a hearty laugh. "You wouldn't know taste if it slapped you in the face."
While they were bickering, Sam had gone to take a look at the brownies — well, the half a tray you'd generously left while on your eating spree.
"Guys," he said, "I think I know what's going on here."
Rowena was all ears, anticipation shooting through her like caffeine in her veins.
Sam gulped, uneasy, uncomfortable. Rowena's stomach twisted. How bad bad was it? Dear Charles, how bad was it? Was it a spell, a poison, a rare and incurable human disease?
"Well?" she prompted. No matter how bad it was, she would deal with it. She and you would deal with it together, like you'd dealt with everything else.
"I think… I think these are pot brownies," Sam said.
Rowena raised an eyebrow. Questioning. Incredulous. "Pot brownies?"
"They're, um—" Sam tried to explain, but was cut off right away.
"I know what pot brownies are, Samuel," she said in a tone that made it very clear she took offense to being perceived as ignorant on this particular subject. She was over three hundred years old. Of bloody course she knew what pot brownies were! "Why would you let Y/N eat them?"
"I didn't know there was pot in them."
"They were in your bloody kitchen!"
A soothing relief washed over her. You weren't sick. You weren't dying. You were just… high. Too high, considering you'd devoured half a tray of drug-infused desserts.
Sam raised his hands in a placating manner, guilt etched across his face. It was an accident; he knew that, Dean knew that, Rowena knew that. It was wrong to blame him. He would never hurt you on purpose, would never do anything to put you in danger of any kind. He wouldn't drug you.
"Cas brought them over. He didn't say they were pot brownies," he said.
"I'm gonna give him a call," Dean said, reaching for his phone.
"You do that, and pass the phone over. Feathers and I've got a few things to discuss," Rowena said menacingly.
"I don't think so," the older Winchester said. "He's still scared of you 'cause of what happened last time."
Right. When he'd helpfully suggested that she go through the Book of the Damned again, after she'd gone through it in detail, and she'd cursed him out to the point where she'd run out of breath and her face had flushed an angry red like a bomb about to explode.
"He better be scared of me, because if something happens to Y/N, I will make him suffer," Rowena hissed threateningly, and she'd meant any word.
"Take it easy," Sam said. "This could all be a mistake."
"Yeah. Maybe he got them on accident," Dean agreed.
Rowena raised an eyebrow. "How does one accidentally acquire marijuana-infested brownies?"
"It's Cas," was Dean's only explanation before he headed to another room to make the call.
She supposed it was a good point. The angel wasn't the brightest of bulbs. He certainly wasn't as well versed in everything human as he thought. Still, Rowena couldn't help the anger bubbling up inside her. You were drugged up and paranoid. It wasn't fair. It wasn't right. Someone had to pay.
"Are you sure it's marijuana?" she asked, approaching Sam to take a better look at the offending sweets.
"Seems like it," he replied. "Why?"
"I may be able to make a potion to counter its effects." If it genuinely was the drug and not poison or a spell, it would be easy enough to cure.
"A few ingredients, if you'd be so kind."
He smiled. She returned it. Her shoulders relaxed a bit, relieved of the tension. She could fix this. She would fix this. You would be okay.
She told Sam what she needed and he went to fetch it while she rummaged her bag for the herbs she'd brought along. He helped her settle in the kitchen and she started working her magic. Sam watched her as she worked, observed it with what she could only describe as interest. He was fascinated by her craft and skills. Fascinated by her. She was a professional. She measured and added ingredients with ease, not once stopping to think if she'd gotten it right. She knew she did. She didn't make mistakes when it came to magic.
She was just finishing up when Dean strolled in.
"And?" Sam asked.
His brother sighed. "He says he got 'em from a guy in an alley."
Rowena blinked. "He what?" She turned around, locking eyes with him, green burning into green. "Is that how you boys always get your groceries? From" — she formed quotes with her fingers — "'a guy in an alley?'"
Dean rolled his eyes.
"Anything else?" Sam said, ignoring her comment.
"He begged me not to put Rowena on the phone."
The witch scoffed.
"He says he's sorry," Dean added.
"He will be sorry if this—" she held up the glass of the now finished potion "—doesn't work."
"What if you made it wrong?" he said.
She shot him a look that had surely killed before. "I am a professional. I did not make it wrong."
He responded with a roll of his eyes, which Rowena heartily returned. She hurried to the room she'd left you in, potion clutched so tightly in her hand that her already pale knuckles turned sheet-white. She found you exactly as she'd left you, curled up in a blanket, shaking as if you were freezing, wide, frightened eyes scanning every corner of the room over and over to make sure they hadn't slipped in in the few seconds your gaze was elsewhere and were sneaking up on you to do whatever it was you thought they wanted to do to you.
You flinched as the door opened, on alert, and let out a relieved sigh to see it was Rowena.
"I've got good news, darling," she announced.
You frowned, curious. "What is it?"
"I found a way to get rid of them forever."
You perked up at her words. "You did?"
"Aye." She held up the glass. "This potion will make you invisible to them. They won't ever be able to find you again."
You eyed the brownish liquid with interest. "Really?" She nodded. You grinned, joyous, happy. Excited. "Where did you find it?"
"The Black Grimoire," she lied.
You bought it. "That's amazing! So they won't see me at all if I drink it?"
"That's right." If it was, in fact, marijuana in those brownies, the potion would negate its effects. If it was something else… Rowena shuddered at the thought. You would most likely get even more paranoid, maybe stop trusting her altogether. If that was the case, she was screwed.
She hoped it wasn't.
She handed you the glass, and you took a long swing. You downed it in one go, licking your lips clean.
"Give it a few minutes," she told you, and you nodded.
Silence befell the two of you. Rowena's mind was racing, various scenarios swirling through her head. Some of them were good; you, happy, smiling, back to your old self, laughing about everything that had transpired in the past hour. Others, not so good. Some were of you getting even more paranoid. There were some where you hated her, screamed it right in her face with so much conviction it had to be true, and ran off into the surrounding woods, never to be found again. One showcased the worst, you in the hospital bed, hooked up to tubes and machines, with doctors saying you would never wake up again.
Get a hold of yourself, Rowena, she told herself, shaking herself back to reality. You're becoming paranoid. The potion would work, and if it didn't, she would make one that did. As she'd said herself, she was a professional. She'd studied witchcraft from the greats, attended the most prestigious institutes of magic. There was nothing she couldn't do.
You suddenly stilled. Rowena's eyes shifted to you, concern spilling over her face.
You let out a tiny moan, followed by a groan, then rubbed at your eyes as if you were tired. "Rowena?"
"I'm right here, darling." She took hold of your hand, twined her fingers with yours. "How are you feeling?"
Rowena's heart jumped with joy. You were back. "Any fear?"
"No." Your hand shot up to your forehead, slapping hard against it. "Oh, god!"
"What is it?"
You looked at her, blushing madly, shame etched over your face, as if you wished for earth to part and swallow you whole. "That was so embarrassing!"
Rowena had to chuckle. "I take it they aren't after you anymore."
"No." You buried your face in your hands. "Oh, god."
"Hey, it's okay. What matters most is that you're okay." She laid a hand on your shoulder, a gentle, comforting gesture. Your paranoia was a bit funny, now that she looked back on it, but the most important thing was that you were alright. You'd acted weird. She'd, in turn, overreacted. The two of you could look back on it with laughter rather than tears.
"What even happened?" you asked. "Why was I… crazy?"
"Pot brownies," Rowena replied.
You frowned, looking at her as if she was now the one that was acting crazy. "What?"
"Those brownies you ate had marijuana in them."
"So I was high?" She nodded. "Jesus! Why didn't Sam tell me what they were?"
"He didn't know. Apparently, Feathers forgot to buy pie, so he got those to compensate. From, and I quote, 'a guy in an alley.'"
That made you laugh. "What? That's… that's crazy."
A roar of laughter ripped from your throat. "Imagine if Dean ate them."
The image instantly formed in Rowena's mind. She couldn't resist a laugh of her own.
"Don't ever do that again," she chided after a long moment.
"Worried the hell out of you, didn't I?" you asked, an amused smile playing on your mouth.
Rowena glared. "You did."
She ignored the quip. "I thought you were poisoned."
"I kinda was," you pointed out. "My little worry doll."
You giggled. "You're precious, you know that?"
"And you're rude," she retorted, pouting adorably. "And ungrateful."
"Don't be like that. I'm very grateful." You wrapped your arms around her shoulders, pulling her into a tight hug, and pressed a kiss to her cheek. "Very, very grateful."
You gave her another kiss, and another, and another. Rowena melted in your embrace, basking in the love, in the attention. You kissed her some more, on both cheeks, forehead, the tip of her nose, and finally her lips. She gave herself away to you, let you do with her what you pleased, and you showered her with affection. She never tired of it.
And neither did you.
"I'm so lucky to have you," you said, laying one final kiss to her temple.
I'm luckier to have you, Rowena thought. She didn't dare say it out loud; she just leaned back, a silent plea for more kisses, for more love.
You happily obliged.